Since our initial look back in February at NVIDIA’s Optimus technology and how it can drastically change the way mobile computing is accomplished with discrete GPUs, we have seen the product officially roll out and even have notebooks for sale.  ASUS was the first major partner, with models like the N61J-X2 offering discrete graphics and integrated in a truly user friendly package. 

(If you missed our review, check the link above or hit up our video review right here.)

Since my review I have been trying to find a way to demonstrate the benefits of this behind-the-scenes technology in a more traditional, visual manner.  I decided to sit down with the pair of identical ASUS notebooks used in our initial review, one with Optimus technology enabled and the other without, and measure power consumption from the wall while running our PC Perspective Web Browsing battery test.  The battery was removed from the machine so the only power was coming from the wall and all settings were identical. 

I measured the power during several complete cycle of the battery test loop to compare three configurations: standard system with the discrete GPU off, standard system with the discrete GPU on and the Optimus system that switched the GPU on and off on the fly without user interaction. 

The results turned out to be pretty interesting:

NVIDIA Optimus technology demonstrated visually - Mobile 3

The green line represents the power consumption every second with the GPU disabled on the standard system while the red line is for the same system with the GPU turned on full time.  The blue line represents the Optimus configured notebook.  Though the lines between the runs don’t match up exactly because of issues cropping the data, we can easily see that the “GPU Off” configuration uses less power at almost every instance than the other two systems as we would expect.  In some cases the “GPU Off” result and the “Optimus” result run neck and neck indicating that the system truly is using no more power under Optimus (when the GPU acceleration is not needed) than with the GPU disabled through Windows power management options.

When the GPU is being utilized, in our case here during Flash video playback, you can see that the power consumption between the “Optimus” result and the “GPU On” result are very close and are both using much more power than the “GPU Off” option. 

These results are really nothing new, but represent a different way of seeing the same results we showed you in February.

NVIDIA Optimus technology demonstrated visually - Mobile 4

Obviously because the battery life of the UL50 with Optimus enabled runs just a bit longer than the UL50 with the GPU turned off, the average power consumption of the Optimus system is nearly equal to that of just keeping the GPU disabled.  The benefit of Optimus is of course that you get the computing power of the discrete GPU when you need it without the continuous hit on the battery.

Our testing of Optimus-enabled systems continues in the labs around the world so keep an eye on PC Perspective for more reviews very soon!

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